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Daning River Excursion

This breathtakingly beautiful area has only been open to overseas tourists since 1985 and for this reason it remains largely unspoilt. A day trip up the crystal – clear Daning River ( a 300-kilometer-long tributary joins the Yangtze River at the mouth of the Wu Gorge), through its magnificent Three Little Gorges – whose total length is 50kilometers – is to experience the excitement and awe of bygone days of river travel in China. The Excursion is undertaken in long, low wooden motorized sampans (a light flat-bottomed boat used along the coats and river in China, Japan. Etc.), whose strong experience boatmen pole with all their might when the river is too shallow for the engine to be used, heaving their bodies forward as they are almost lying on their backs in their struggle against the current. Few of the local boats encountered are motorized and the boatmen must tow the boats – Laden with local merchandise and coal-upriver, using a long bamboo rope and tracking in harness, along the water‘s edge or along cut pathways along the rock face, chanting as they go. Negotiating a rapid may take several exhausting attempts before the boat is finally hauled over.

Approximately 40minutes from the mouth of the Daning River, at its confluence with the Yangtze River, the entrance to the Dragon Gate Gorge – the first of the gorges - is reached. The gorge is 3kilometers (2miles) long. On the cliff face to the right is the 1981flood mark, over 40meters above river level. The mouth of the gorge is like a massive gateway through which the river rushed like a green dragon, hence the Dragon Gate Gorge. The gateway appears to shut once the visitor has passed through. On the east side is Dragon Gate Spring and above it Lingzhi Peak, topped by Nine-Dragon Pillar. On the peak, one legend has it that strange plants and the lingzhi fungus of immortality are grown and guarded by nine dragons. On the western bank, two rows of 15-centimetersquare holes, continuing the entire length of the little gorges and numbering more than 6,000are all that remain of an astonishing plank walkway, which was first constructed in the Han Dynasty and recorded in the Annals of Wushan County in 246BC。Wooden stakes insert into these hand-hewn holes supported planks and large bamboo pipes, which stretched for 100 kilometers (62.1miles) along the Daning River. This pipeline conveyed brine, while the planks provided an access for maintenance. In the 17th century, the peasant leader Li Zicheng (1606-1645) and his army used the pathway in their uprising against the Ming Dynasty, was destroyed by the imperial army.

After leaving the gorge the boat passes the Nest of Sliver Rapid. In the past, rich merchants trading in the hinterland often came to grief here; perhaps there are caches of silver under the bubbling surface still! In 1958 work began on clearing major obstacles from the river.

The Daning River then meanders through terraced hillsides before entering the 10-kilometers (6.21 miles) Misty Gorge, with its dramatic scenery of rocks peaks and caves, including Fairy Maiden Cave, Fairy Throwing a silk Ball, and Guanyin (Avalokitesvara) Seated on a lotus Platform. A long, layered formation, like a scaly dragon, can be seen on the eastern cliff. Suspended upon the precipice is a relic of the ancient inhabitants of eastern Sichuan2, 000years ago, an ‘iron coffin (which is actually made of wood that has turned black with age), hence the Iron Coffin Gorge.

The village of Shuanglong or Twin Dragon in Chinese (population about 300), above Bawu Gorge, is the half way point. Lunch is provided at the reception center, which also has ten rooms for overnight accommodations.

The 20-kilometres long Emerald Green Gorge is inhabited by wild ducks and covered with luxuriant bamboo groves from which rises a deafening cacophony of bird- song. There are also many types of monkey throughout the Yangtze gorges, but today they can be hearted only in Emerald Green Gorge. River stones of an extradianry variety and color can be gathered. These are painted and sold as artistic souvenirs in local shops.

At the end of the gorge the tourist boat turns around and rushed downstream, arriving at Wushan in half the time it took to get here, aided by the skilful use of the long yuloh, which is weighted by a stone to steady the boat.

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